Sophia — “People waste their time pondering whether a glass is half empty or half full. Me, I just drink whatever’s in the glass.”
Few things make me laugh as hard as watching The Golden Girls. I’ll admit it: I’m a Golden Girls junkie. Although all the main characters are gone now — except for Bette White— the show is such an iconic example of what girlfriends should be that I just can’t get enough of it.
Which Golden Girl am I— Blanche, Dorothy, Rose or Sophia? Depends on the day (and who you ask) …
I remember the first time I realized that Dorothy referred to her age in the show as being 55 and I realized, “OH, NO! I’m older than Dorothy! I’m a “golden girl!” That was a real epiphany.
The most important take-away in the show is that, although they were total opposites who often grated on each other's last good nerve, somehow, they ended up smiling and devouring cheesecake and ice cream at the end of each 30-minute episode. They had managed to stay BFFs through it all.
Hakuna Matata (“No worries”)
Rose — “My mother always used to say, ‘The older you get, the better you get, unless you’re a banana.”
Recently, I attended a girls’ reunion for the Class of ’76. The theme of the annual get-together was Hakuna Matata. I had reservations about going— many years had passed since I had seen most of these girls and, let’s face it, time changes everything. Everything!
I decided, yes. I was going to go.
Arriving at a beautiful home located in a pastoral setting with my longtime friend, Pam, we took a deep breath and walked into a room of faces that we hadn’t seen in years. After a few short moments, it was clear that the decades that had passed in the blink of an eye had definitely changed all of us.
Immediately noticeable was the fact that, while the hands of time may have left its mark on us by way of the lines of our faces and the shapes of our bodies, our spirits were the same spirits of the girls who left Brenham High, full of wonder and anticipation for bright futures 43 years ago.
We may have arrived with physical evidence of surviving life’s bumps and bruises, broken hearts and everyday trials, but each of us "brought to the table” something much more important—a desire to reconnect and enjoy the women we had become. Certainly, a better, softer version of our former selves.
Time erases petty jealousies, typical high school cliquishness and superficial regard for social status, and leaves in its stead the warmth of “new” friendship. The latter comes complete with respect for a shared past, a genuine interest in each other’s lives and a knowledge that life can be much tougher than we had hoped for on graduation day.
That day made it evident that each of us shared a true respect for the women we are today.
We are still standing, still laughing.
And for that one day, we were 18 again — and ready to take on the world.
Dorothy — “Oh, c’mon Blanche. Age is just a state of mind.”
Blanche— “Tell that to my thighs.”
I think the best part of being fortunate enough to reach this stage of life is that we've lived long enough to figure out most of the hard parts.
We've accepted the fact that we will never be everyone's “cup of tea" and that not everyone will be ours — and that's ok. We've given it our best shot and we're now wise enough to recognize what is not fixable. Then we forgave ourselves for letting go...
We've had enough birthdays to recognize what's in our best interest. We can spot manipulators from five miles away — and we're finally street-smart enough to RUN!
We've had enough life experience to expect to be treated with respect. We don't sit still for insults, lies (which we can ferret-out at the speed of light) and condescension. (And we are, hopefully, mellowed and mature enough by now not to dish it out.)
We've realized that the sun is going to come up in the east and set in the west, regardless of what our bank statements or medical reports say. We know that our first sip of morning coffee is going to go down as smoothly at our kitchen tables as it will in some exotic vacation spot. And that sticky, delicious ice cream enjoyed with a toddler tastes just as sweet when savored in a park (or anywhere else!) as it does at Disney World.
And, most importantly, we can now recognize when it’s time to lay childish insecurities to rest. Time is a great equalizer and age brings wisdom.
In the end, we’re all just Blanche, Dorothy, Rose and Sophia in different packages, trying to navigate life’s little ups and downs as best we can. (And share a lot of laughs along the way.)
Message in a bottle (and a couple on canvas)
Rose — “Blanche, what's a metaphor?”
Blanche — “It's when you use a phrase to mean something else. Like when I say, ‘Men are blinded by my beauty.’ They're not really blinded. They get their sight back in a day or two!”
In June, hubby and I visited the Tampa area while on vacation to Florida. We had heard so much about Bern’s Steakhouse (rightfully so!) and were advised to not miss the Salvadore Dali museum. While at Bern’s, we toured their wine cellar, home to bottles of wine ranging in cost from easy-on-the-pocket to upwards of $30,000.
Both visits gave us the opportunity to think outside the box.
What is it exactly that makes a painting valuable? In the case of Spanish surrealist painter Dali, he was a master of hidden images and, metaphorically, illustrates that what you see at first glance is nothing compared to what lies just beneath the surface.
(Use the right and left arrows to scroll through the Dali images. At a distance of 22 yards, "Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea" transforms into and image of Abe Lincoln.)
And in the case of wine, it’s both the vintage and the aging that establishes it's worth.
Who we are today is a culmination of all of the layered experiences of our lives. What is visible on the surface is just a sliver of who we really are. And like fine wine (forgive the cliché), I do believe we get better with age.
It doesn’t take visits to art museums and wine cellars to come to this conclusion. Sometimes it only takes watching a syndicated comedy about four women who accept each other for who they’ve become.
And sometimes, all it requires is revisiting past friendships to realize that people do change over time — and most times the changes are positive.
Taking the time to peel back the layers reveals the youthful spirit that made us who we were, and still are, in the very best ways.
Rising to life’s challenges
Rose — “Where are you going?”
Dorothy — “To get ice cream. Or commit a felony. I’ll decide in the car.”
The Golden Girls of 1976 spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon sharing memories, telling stories and reconnecting in the same community where we all started as classmates. The afternoon flew by in an instant and we were all saddened to see the event draw to a close.
Grand awakenings don’t have to happen on hiatuses or through unfamiliar, cultural exposure. It’s not about "Location! Location! Location!" It's about taking the time to appreciate the everyday things and the people who are important in our lives. No money required. No luggage to pack; no lavish plans needed.
Do it now, before it’s, “Shady Pines, Ma! Shady Pines!”
Just take a look around and surround yourself with friends who know how to live their best lives, playing the hand they've been dealt, with as much grace and as little drama as possible.
Savor the ones who take their hits and keep believing in The Lion King’s motto, "Hakuna Matata."
Those are the ones with whom you can look back, smile and say, “Thank you for being a friend.”
For seven seasons (1985-1992), The Golden Girls entered our living rooms and hearts and fully bones. To see why I'm addicted, click on the arrow to watch the clip below. And then enjoy a slice of cheesecake...
Thank you, Blanche Deveroux (Rue McClanahan), Dorothy Zbornak (Beatrice Arthur), Rose Nyland (Betty White) and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty).